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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Troy Chamber of Commerce President's open letter to council

Dear Mayor Daniels and Members of the Troy City Council:
Twenty-three days ago, I stood on the platform of Shanghai’s Maglev Train with 57 fellow travelers from the Troy Chamber.  The Maglev is the fastest ground transportation in the world, and it hovers ten millimeters above the Earth as it races forward at 431 km/h.     As we boarded the train, there was a buzz in the air and an excitement that mirrored that of the Great Wall.  Who would have thought a mere train could compete with the grandeur and history of the Great Wall, history’s most massive public works project?
I suppose the answer to that question lies in the fact it is not a mere train.  It represents a mastery of innovation and technological advancement.  It suggests a clear understanding of what a vital, on fire society is all about.   It is also a symbol, and a remarkable one at that, for it symbolizes a hunger and a desire to be the fastest and the best in the world.
When coupled with the 4,000 skyscrapers built in Shanghai since the 1990’s, the notable architecture, the outstanding public transportation system, and the overall commitment to achievement, the Maglev makes it clear China is positioned to compete, and to do so strongly.  In fact, it was a bit unsettling to arrive back in New York, only for it to feel “small” in comparison.
What does this mean for our future?  It means we need to recapture the innovative spirit that formed our country, and that made Troy what it is today.  As the Troy City Council debates whether or not to go forward with our own transit center, I feel a bit rattled by what I see as imminent danger, for we are in danger of losing a strong competitive advantage.  I see the transit center as an important problem solving tool, one that can resolve our revenue crisis, and inspire forward movement that can lead to far more opportunity.
I’m not going to burden you with the facts and figures that form the basis for making this most important investment in our community, for you’ve heard them before.   And, the Chamber has exerted considerable energy toward ensuring this is a solid investment for Troy.  Rather, my hope is to awaken in our community an awareness of what is needed to compete in the global marketplace, and to remain a community of choice. 
People want walkable communities, people want to reduce commercial vacancies, people want higher property values, people want transportation options, people want additional revenue to support community infrastructure, and people want an innovative community ripe with opportunity.  The transit center can make this vision a reality.
Henry Ford once said “If I would have asked my customer what he/she wanted, it would have been a faster horse”.  We can’t settle for the faster horse.  We must go for the Maglev.  We must be the bullet that seizes this opportunity to solidify resources that address the challenges we face.  The transit center is our future.  The hard work has been done, and all we need to do now is enjoy the benefits that will transpire for years to come.
Michele Hodges, President
Troy Chamber of Commerce

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